SpaceX Drone Ship Landing! (Part 2)

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On April 8, 2016, the Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon spacecraft to the international space station, and the first stage returned and landed on the “Of course I still love you” droneship.
Curious to know the significance of this landing type? KEEP WATCHING!!

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Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) is an autonomous spaceport drone ship (ASDS) that operates out of Port Canaveral, Florida. The droneship is a modified barge outfitted with a large landing platform, station-keeping thrusters and other equipment to allow SpaceX to land boosters at sea on high-velocity missions that cannot carry enough fuel to allow for a return-to-launch-site landing. Construction of OCISLY started in early 2015 and was built as a replacement for the original drone ship “Just Read The Instructions” and The drone ship entered service in June 2015. OCISLY is built upon a barge – Marmac 304 – and was modified in a Louisiana shipyard. Modifications include an expanded deck to increase the size of the landing platform, the installation of 4 thruster engines so the drone ship can autonomously maintain its position at sea, and blast shielding to protect electrical and engine equipment on deck. It is equipped with 4 x 300 horsepower azimuth thruster engines that are fitted to each corner of the landing platform. When deployed, they allow the drone ship to maintain a precise position whilst at sea. Elon Musk has stated that the drone ship is capable of maintaining its target position to within 3 meters, even under storm conditions. The drone ship can reportedly maintain its target position autonomously, or under remote control by operators on a support ship. It’s also fitted with cameras, sensors and other measuring equipment to allow SpaceX to record and gather data on the landings. On a number of occasions, it has been shown that the cameras can be remotely adjusted and moved during landings to provide a better perspective. Moreover, it is fitted with two satellite antennas for the uplink of data and for communication with the incoming booster. A common problem experienced during SpaceX webcasts is the video connection to the droneship cutting out during the landing. This occurs because vibrations created by the landing booster violently shake the droneship, temporarily breaking the connection and up-link to the satellite. A robot, officially named the Falcon 9 Securing Robot, but universally known as Octagrabber lives on the droneship and is deployed shortly after a booster landing. The robot is remotely driven from it’s blast-proof shelter and positioned underneath the Falcon 9. Four arms then raise up and latch onto the Falcon 9 Octaweb, securing the booster. OCISLY is equipped with remotely-operated fire fighting hoses that can quickly deluge the drone ship in water in the event of an explosio* or fire caused by a failed landing.
SpaceX drone ships are not designed to autonomously move themselves over long distances. Instead, a tugboat is used to tow the drone ship to the target position offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. The exact position of the drone ship is dependent on mission requirements. Boosters used on Starlink and geostationary transfer orbit missions typically land between 600 – 675 km downrange. The furthest drone ship position was 1239 km downrange, set during the STP-2 Falcon Heavy mission in June 2019. OCISLY and the tugboat will leave Port Canaveral up to 7 days in advance of the launch date, with other accompanying support ships leaving later. After traveling to the landing zone the thrusters and other equipment will be engaged. Support vessels and the tugboat will then retreat to a safe distance to observe the landing. Of Course I Still Love You is unmanned during all landings. Once the landing is complete, Octagrabber will be deployed to secure the booster and SpaceX technicians will dis-engage the thrusters and prepare the drone ship for the return journey. The tugboat will then tow OCISLY back to Port Canaveral.
You may ask yourself, what is the point of landing SpaceX’s rocket on a barge in the ocean? And the main reason is that in certain cases, the first stage simply does not have enough fuel to come back to the land.

Credits: Ron Miller
Credits: Nasa/ Shutterstock/ Storyblocks
credits: marek cyzio (cc by -nd 2.0)
credits: elon musk/ spacex
credits: pauline acalin ( cc by 2.0)
credits:steve jurvetson
credits: matthew juergens
credits: michael seeley (cc by 2.0)

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